Major Schools of Thought in Psychology

829 Words Aug 29th, 2013 4 Pages
Schools of Thought
Throughout psychology 's history, a number of different schools of thought have been formed to explain human thought and behaviour. These schools of thought often rise to dominance for a period of time. While these schools of thought are sometimes perceived as competing forces, each perspective has contributed to our understanding of psychology. The following are some of the major schools of thought in psychology.
• Structuralism
• Functionalism
• Psychoanalysis
• Behaviourism
• Humanism
• Cognitivism
Major Schools of Thought in Psychology
When psychology was first established as a science separate from biology and philosophy, the debate over how to describe and explain the human mind and behaviour began. The
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Behaviourism
Behaviourism became a dominant school of thought during the 1950s. It was based upon the work of thinkers such as:
John B. Watson
Ivan Pavlov
B. F. Skinner
Behaviourism suggests that all behaviour can be explained by environmental causes rather than by internal forces. Behaviourism is focused on observable behaviour. Theories of learning including classical conditioning and operant conditioning were the focus of a great deal of research.
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a school of psychology founded by Sigmund Freud. This school of thought emphasizes the influence of the unconscious mind on behaviour.
Freud believed that the human mind was composed of three elements: the id, the ego and the superego. The id is composed of primal urges, while the ego is the component of personality charged with dealing with reality. The superego is the part of personality that holds all of the ideals and values we internalize from our parents and culture. Freud believed that the interaction of these three elements was what led to all of the complex human behaviours.
Freud 's school of thought was enormously influential, but also generated a great deal of controversy. This controversy existed not only in his time, but also in modern discussions of Freud 's theories. Other major psychoanalytic thinkers include:
 Anna Freud
 Carl Jung
 Erik

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